International Conference on Environmental Diversity and Environmental Jurisprudence at Chandigarh University

Developing countries least to blame for global carbon emissions, Western industrialised countries must lead fight against climate change: Union Minister Bhupender Yadav

Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change underlines India’s philosophy of ‘Development without Destruction’, government’s efforts at national, international level

Supreme Court Judges, representatives from 20 countries, UN, State High Courts Judges among 4000 deliberate at Chandigarh University’s International Conference on Environmental Diversity & Jurisprudence

MOHALI: Developing countries like India contribute the least to global carbon emissions and therefore the western industrialized nations must shoulder bulk of the financial burden for combating climate change, said Shri Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, as he underlined India’s role in leading the fight for environmental protection.

Speaking at the Valedictory session of the two-day international conference on ‘Environmental Diversity & Environmental Jurisprudence: National & International Perspective’ organised by Chandigarh University, at its Gharuan campus, Yadav said that the need of the hour is to strike a balance between development and pollution free environment, and India’s development philosophy of ‘Development without Destruction’ has put biodiversity conservation as a top priority in all sectors of economic development.

Hon'ble Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Michael Wilson, Judge, Supreme Court of Hawaii, Justice Augustine George Masih, Judge, High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh, former Supreme Court Judge and former NGT chairman, Justice (Retd.) Swatanter Kumar, S. Satnam Singh Sandhu, Chancellor, Chandigarh University were present in the Valedictory session.

Noting that India’s environmental law and policy is as much about equity and justice as it is about protection and conservation, Yadav said that the burden for protection of the environment should fall on to the shoulders of those who are responsible for the problem.

“Developing countries contribute least to the global carbon emissions. India’s per capita carbon emission is among the lowest in the world at two tonnes and therefore the western industrialized nations should shoulder the bulk of the financial burden for combating climate change,” said Yadav in his Valedictory address.

Asserting that India has been at the forefront in the fight for environmental protection and has been getting the world to act on issues that are critical to fight against climate change, Yadav said the present government at Centre has taken up the task of democratizing biodiversity conservation.

“We have 2.75 Lakh Biodiversity Management Committees functional in India in every village and local body, who document and manage its biodiversity in the form of People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR). We are currently implementing the National Clean Air Plan (NCAP) which aims to clean up India’s air. To combat the air pollution, especially in Delhi NCR and other adjoining states, we have brought the Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act, 2021 to establish a commission as the sole authority with jurisdiction over air quality management in the region,” he said, adding that combating climate change is the most important task ahead of the mankind.

Underlining that India has one of the most unique and diverse biodiversity, Yadav said that a fine balance has to be maintained between development and the environment.

“The society shall have to prosper, but not at the cost of the environment and similarly the environment shall have to be protected but not at the cost of development. The need of the hour is to strike a balance between the development and pollution-free environment. India’s development philosophy of ‘Development without Destruction’ is a fine example of this balance where we are working with line Ministries and Departments to mainstream biodiversity conservation in all sectors of economic development,” the minister said.

Yadav said that Environmental law, despite its development in recent times, is still in its infancy and the concept of liability needs to be developed both at national and international level.

“Environmental jurisprudence is still focused on punishing the polluter or the poacher at the local level whereas the reality of climate change, pollution of oceans and air requires us to devise mechanisms which can look beyond the national boundaries,” he added.

Yadav said that environmental pollution and degradation are serious problems and judiciary has played a significant role in redressal of these problems.

“Industrialisation and preservation of the environment are two conflicting interests and their harmonisation is a major challenge before the judicial system and the governance system of the country. We should always remember the fact that our utilisation of resources must be based on ‘Mindful and Deliberate Utilisation’ and not on ‘Mindless and Destructive Consumption’. We need to protect the environment, not just for future generations but for the present generation also, after all there is only one planet and there is no Planet B,” said Yadav.

In his presidential address, Justice Kaul said that the world is past the stage of creating the laws and now should focus on ensuring that the laws are followed in letter and spirit. 

“We have violated environment and that has caused the degradation. The time has come that we join hands to combat this, instead of shifting the blame. If we don’t leave this planet in a better shape than we inherited it, we are going to apologise to a lot of people. We have a long history of destroying nature in the name of progress. We cannot change the past, but our present efforts will ensure the future,” he said.

Justice Kaul also emphasised that specialist courts dealing with environmental laws must also be managed by specialists.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Michael D Wilson said that this world needs transformational changes, a movement of people. “It is you, the young students, who will lead this change and ensure environmental protection,” he said. 

On this occasion, Justice Augustine George Masih said that for preserving environment, we need to change the way we look at things, we think and we are, when it comes to nature, as he exhorted the young students to take up the challenge and fight for the protection of nature.

Organised with a vision to formulate the roadmap and future direction to India’s efforts at attaining the global targets for environment protection and climate change, the conference was inaugurated by Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, even as Governor of Punjab, and Administrator, UT Chandigarh, Shri Banwarilal Purohit presided over the inaugural session on day one.

Hon'ble Justices of the Supreme Court of India, Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, United Nation Resident Commissioner in India, Shombi Sharp, Justice Shri Mohammad Rafiq, Chief Justice, High Court of Himachal Pradesh, representatives from 20 countries including Judges, High Commissioner, Ambassadors, Environmentalists, Lawyers, Experts in Biodiversity and Environmental Jurisprudence from all over the globe, besides 4000 students participated in the conference.